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A Team Game

Ed Graney, who is a columnist for Las Vegas Review Journal, has an article up on Ben Ball warriors, which he probably wrote before last night's game. It's a pretty good read. There isn't anything new in it for those of us who follow Ben Ball on a day-to-day basis, but it's the first article that I have read in the traditional media, which wonders whether the Bruins at this point of season are better than last year:

"I think in some ways [UCLA] is better than last year," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "When you go through the [NCAA Tournament] like they did last season, I really think it made them mentally tough. When you got through that, your returning players come back with a different understanding, a different swagger and confidence. They certainly have all that.

"When we beat them [in Eugene on Jan. 6], they were shocked. They didn't expect to lose. Just going through what they did last year made them so much more confident. It's a basketball team that understands what it takes to be successful. Possession by possession, game by game, week by week, it has that confidence and work ethic that allows them to be so good."
Nice comments from Kent, who made them before last night's game. In addition to Coach Kent, the article had comments from other Pac-10 coaches who had some nice things to say about our basketball program:
"They just replace one great [player] with another," Oregon State coach Jay John said. "Everything else is the same. They're better at this point than they were a year ago, when they were an ever-improving team."

Cal coach Ben Braun said one thing that separates UCLA from most others is its multiple offensive options as the shot clock nears zero. The best one is Afflalo, a junior averaging just over 17 points.
Graney goes on to write about the make-up of this year's team - how DC is different from Jordan, how we have to get more consistent effort from our post guys - issues we have been talking about all year here on BN. But the key quote, as usual, comes from (our "homeboy" (just kidding Coach)) Ben Howland (emphasis mine):
"I think there is no question that when we went into this season with a nucleus of players that had been on that team last year and been a part of a very positive experience, it was going to help us," Howland said. "We have guys who are used to winning and when we lose, it's very disappointing.

"We have always done everything as a team, including bouncing back from any loss. We win as a team and lose as a team."
They sure did last night. Now they just have to keep it going. There is still a long way to go. But we all know that this team is better situated at this point in the season compared to last. The question is whether they are going to be able to close like they did in 2006.

We trust the best coach in college basketball (who happens to be our "home boy") will make sure our guys will do everything in their power to make it happen.